Supreme Court Will Hear Gay Marriage Cases - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Supreme Court Will Hear Gay Marriage Cases

Posted:
(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

WASHINGTON (AP)— The Supreme Court will take up California's ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.

The justices said Friday they will review a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban, though on narrow grounds. The San Francisco-based appeals court said the state could not take away the same-sex marriage right that had been granted by California's Supreme Court.

The court also will decide whether Congress can deprive legally married gay couples of federal benefits otherwise available to married people. A provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act limits a range of health and pension benefits, as well as favorable tax treatment, to heterosexual couples.

The cases probably will be argued in March, with decisions expected by late June.

Gay marriage is legal, or will be soon, in nine states — Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington — and the District of Columbia. Federal courts in California have struck down the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but that ruling has not taken effect while the issue is being appealed.

Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved gay marriage earlier this month.

But 31 states have amended their constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage. North Carolina was the most recent example in May. In Minnesota earlier this month, voters defeated a proposal to enshrine a ban on gay marriage in that state's constitution.

The biggest potential issue before the justices comes in the dispute over California's Proposition 8, the state constitutional ban on gay marriage that voters adopted in 2008 after the state Supreme Court ruled that gay Californians could marry. The case could allow the justices to decide whether the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection means that the right to marriage cannot be limited to heterosexuals.

A decision in favor of gay marriage could set a national rule and overturn every state constitutional provision and law banning same-sex marriages. A ruling that upheld California's ban would be a setback for gay marriage proponents in the nation's largest state, although it would leave open the state-by-state effort to allow gays and lesbians to marry.

In striking down Proposition 8, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals crafted a narrow ruling that said because gay Californians already had been given the right to marry, the state could not later take it away. The ruling studiously avoided any sweeping pronouncements.

The larger constitutional issue almost certainly will be presented to the court, but the justices would not necessarily have to rule on it.

The other issue the high court will take on involves a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, known by its acronym DOMA, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits.

Four federal district courts and two appeals courts struck down the provision.

The justices chose for their review the case of 83-year-old Edith Windsor, who sued to challenge a $363,000 federal estate tax bill after her partner of 44 years died in 2009.

Windsor, who goes by Edie, married Thea Spyer in 2007 after doctors told them that Spyer would not live much longer. She suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years. Spyer left everything she had to Windsor.

There is no dispute that if Windsor had been married to a man, her estate tax bill would have been $0.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with a district judge that the provision of DOMA deprived Windsor of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Shoreline Under Repair Along NASA Wallops Flight Facility

    Shoreline Under Repair Along NASA Wallops Flight Facility

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:05 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:05:19 GMT
    For more than one year, the Atlantic Ocean has been chewing up a zone that protects NASA's most critical launch assets on Wallops Island. Hurricane Sandy is to blame. Now, a coastal restoration project is underway to fix the damage on the coastline.More
    For more than one year, the Atlantic Ocean has been chewing up a zone that protects NASA's most critical launch assets on Wallops Island. Hurricane Sandy is to blame. Now, a coastal restoration project is underway to fix the damage on the coastline.More
  • Second Public Hearing Brings More Opposition

    Second Public Hearing Brings More Opposition

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:24 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:24:04 GMT
    When Planning and Zoning held their public hearing on July 10, hundreds of people came out to voice their support and opposition to a country music festival in the Harbeson area. Approximately two weeks later on Tuesday afternoon about 100 showed up to voice their opinion, primarily in opposition. The County Council heard from dozens of neighbors who said they were staunchly against the festival, citing potential problems with noise, traffic, pollution, and crime.More
    When Planning and Zoning held their public hearing on July 10, hundreds of people came out to voice their support and opposition to a country music festival in the Harbeson area. Approximately two weeks later on Tuesday afternoon about 100 showed up to voice their opinion, primarily in opposition. The County Council heard from dozens of neighbors who said they were staunchly against the festival, citing potential problems with noise, traffic, pollution, and crime.More
  • Del. Police See High Crime Clearance Rate

    Del. Police See High Crime Clearance Rate

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:27 AM EDT2014-07-23 05:27:14 GMT
    The Dover Police Department says its criminal investigations unit could see its best clearance rate in five years.More
    The Dover Police Department says its criminal investigations unit could see its best clearance rate in five years.More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Two Killed in Del. Crash

    Two Killed in Del. Crash

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:45 AM EDT2014-07-22 15:45:19 GMT
    Delaware State Police say two Dover men were killed Monday night after the tow truck they were riding in went off the road and crashed into a telephone pole near Little Creek.More
    Delaware State Police say two Dover men were killed Monday night after the tow truck they were riding in went off the road and crashed into a telephone pole near Little Creek. More
  • Updated: Fire Ruins Historical Hebron Church

    Updated: Fire Ruins Historical Hebron Church

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:33:21 GMT
    Fire has destroyed the historical St. Paul's Episcopal Church located on westbound Route 50 in Hebron.More
    Authorities are investigating a Tuesday fire that destroyed the historical St. Paul's Episcopal Church at the corner of Memory Gardens Lane and Route 50 in Hebron, Md. Preliminary damage is estimated at approximately $500,000.More
  • Stolen Hotel Painting Found

    Stolen Hotel Painting Found

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:28 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:28:53 GMT
    A portrait was stolen Sunday evening from the Dunes Manor Hotel, but it's been returned.More
    A portrait was stolen Sunday evening from the Dunes Manor Hotel, but it's been returned.More
Powered by WorldNow

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service